Magazine

Regional Parking Organizations Fill Void, And Meet Needs of Local Parking Pros

By Dawn Newman

“State and regional parking associations create and foster a network of collaboration and information-sharing among professionals who operate in the same state or region, and often face very similar challenges,” said Rachel Yoka, President of the Pennsylvania Parking Association (PPA).

“These groups offer a different perspective than larger, national organizations,” the Timothy Haas & Associates VP added. “On one hand, they supplement the national conferences and trade  shows by providing access to programming, education and networking on a local level, and increasing accessibility for parking professionals at all levels.

“However, I believe that the more local and regional associations have greater inherent benefits in their own right. My firm, Tim Haahs, and PPA members have the benefit of participating in many of these associations, and we are stronger for it.”

Professionals in the parking industry are familiar with the International Parking Institute (IPI) and the National Parking Association (NPA). Both offer valuable educational and networking opportunities, as well as a plethora of products and services to their membership.

Local parking groups must not be overlooked. It should be noted that state and regional organizations have more members than the two national associations combined. They are able to provide a lower-cost avenue for industry professionals to attend educational events and participate in networking opportunities. Membership fees are relatively inexpensive, as is the cost to attend conferences and other member events.

The economy is fragile, and travel budgets have been slashed across the board over the past few years. State and regional parking associations have bridged the gap for professionals who can no longer travel to attend the national parking events. In fact, these local organizations have reported an increase in not only membership, but also attendance to their conferences and other industry events in the last few years.

Over the past decade, state and regional parking associations have popped up across the country. Today, more than 25 organizations represent some 30 to 40 states. Their collective mission is to provide the local parking industry with a means to find solutions to common issues, and provide a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and education.

The average cost to join such a local organization is $100, and the number of members ranges from 100 to 125. Associations that hold annual conferences and tradeshows can attract up to 200 attendees and vendors. While some of these associations have professional management, all comprise members of a group of local parking professionals who have made the commitment to volunteer their time and expertise to the association’s Board of Directors.

“State and regional associations foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas and close connection to peers in local markets,” said NPA President Christine Banning. “We believe the value of national and local networks better the industry and enhance lifelong learning.”

To that end, the NPA just launched a five-city “Parking Power Network Tour,” inviting NPA members, state and regional associations and guests to network and open more dialogue between public and private professionals, as well as industry suppliers.

“The NPA believes that, as an industry, we are stronger together,” Banning said. “Opportunities to encourage public and private parking professionals to work together, form networks and share expertise strengthen the industry at a time of great change in automation, public/private partnerships and career cross-over between the public and private sectors,” she added.

Leaders of both national parking organizations see the value in state and regional organizations, and are reaching out to embrace them and provide valuable resources to help the local organizations provide greater benefits to their membership.

“The collaboration between the International Parking Institute and our allied state and regional associations has proven to be extremely beneficial,” said Shawn Conrad, Executive Director of the IPI. “The sharing and exchange of ideas and information have helped strengthen the parking industry on both national and local levels.”

At its mid-May 2013 Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale, the IPI is set to host a State and Regional Workshop from 2-6 p.m. May 18, which is expected to attract representative from many of these local organizations.

The IPI also provides a number of resources and assistance to these local organizations in the planning of their events and conferences by providing relevant topics, presentations and speaker support.

State and regional organizations, with the support of these two national associations, are offering more and more benefits to their membership and giving prospective members a tangible reason to join and become active with their local organizations.

Dawn Newman, an independent contractor, provides professional association and conference management to state and regional parking associations nationwide. Contact her at dawncn@att.net.

For information on the NPA’s Parking Power Network Tour, log on to

www.npapark.org. Go to the IPI website http://ipiconference.parking.org for more on its 2013 conference and expo.



 

Article Abstract from May, 2013




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